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Iran Seeks 2 New Nuclear Plants, Rejects Pelosi Visit

Even as UN Security Council sanctions mount, Iran announced that it is seeking bids for the construction of two additional new nuclear plants. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the plants are to have 1,000 to 1,600 MW capabilities and would supply electricity.

Curiously, however, rather than construct them at separate electricity distribution points, the two planned nuclear plants are intended to be built in Bushehr, where Iran's only other plant with the potential to produce power is being completed by Russia.

Also, the head of the Iranian majlis' (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, shunned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after her announcement of interest in traveling to Iran for talks. He said that US practices of capturing Iranian 'diplomats' in Iraq have "spoiled the situation required in the run-up to any kind of talks." Iran did, however, receive a Syrian defense delegation from the Syrian National Defense College. The delegation will be in Tehran for one week.

Iran Wants Detainees Released As More Iranian Arms Found

While Iranian FM Manouchehr Mottaki said Sunday he was optimistic that 5 Iranians held by US forces in Iraq may be released. But his remarks follow a Saturday report that the 'Irbil 5' will not be freed, said to be decided last Tuesday in a meeting of President Bush's foreign policy team.

Mottaki said, "We have recently received some indications over releasing them.” But their release would be a surprising move, considering that all indications to ThreatsWatch in interviews and conversations with Defense and State Department officials have suggested otherwise. All have steadfastly maintained that the five Iranians in question are Quds Force operators and not 'diplomats.' They have all also held consistently that the five detained in the January raid in Irbil, Iraq did not have diplomatic status at the time of their capture.

Meanwhile, Major General William Caldwell presented evidence of Iran training Iraq fighters as well as more Iranian weapons seized at a Baghdad house following a citizen tip. Caldwell said, “We know that they are being in fact manufactured and smuggled into this country, and we know that training does go on in Iran for people to learn how to assemble them and how to employ them. We know that training has gone on as recently as this past month from detainees’ debriefs.”

Anti-Putin Protests Put Down

Following mass arrests at a protest in Moscow, Russian police turned violent at a second anti-Putin rally in St Petersburg the following day. The UK Independent reports that police attacked protesters "when the crowd began to disperse and make their way to a nearby metro station. It was at that point, according to protesters, that the police launched an unprovoked attack, beating people about the legs and the body with batons."

The Financial Times reported from Moscow that about 2,000 protesters attended the Moscow demonstration while about 700 were on hand in St. Petersburg. Security forces "hugely outnumbered demonstrators in both cities and detained hundreds of protesters," including former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, now an opposition leader.

The protests came on the heels of calls by exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky from London for the use of force to overthrow Putin in Moscow because he has abandoned democracy since taking power. Russia had then called for Britain to terminate his political refugee status. In response, Berezovsky has 'clarified' his remarks on the use of 'force' to mean peaceful popular mass protests, as were seen in Ukraine's Orange Revolution. He said Sunday, "This is what happened in Ukraine, this is what happened in Georgia. This is typical of my understanding of a forceful overthrow of the authorities. This is when there is forceful pressure on the authorities from the street and the square in order to change the regime."

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